Germany, Berlin—A 96-year-old former Auschwitz administrator will spend the next four years in jail for his role in the mass killings conducted at the concentration camp during WWII.
Oskar Groening, AKA Auschwitz’s bookkeeper, had been responsible for collecting and counting the cash that was stripped from the death-factory’s unfortunate victims.
He had received his sentence in 2015, but his late age and failing health condition had allowed him to remain free; until now, that is.
The Bundesverfassungsgericht, the German Federal Constitutional Court, concluded that Groening’s age and health was irrelevant due to his crimes.
“The plaintiff has been found guilty of being accessory to murder in 300,000 related cases, meaning there is a particular importance to carrying out the sentence the state has demanded,” said the Federal judges in their ruling.
Groening’s lawyers argued that his incarceration would pose a direct threat to his health and thus violate his right to life. They had previously argued that his post in the concentration-extermination camp meant that he didn’t murder anyone himself.
The Constitutional Court, however, had highlighted the importance for Groening to be punished for his role in supporting the Nazis and their genocidal efforts.
Nevertheless, if the former Waffen-SS’ health deteriorates whilst in prison, he could be released.
The sentence “should happen soon,” said Kathrin Söfker, a public prosecutor’s office spokesperson.
The former Waffen-SS administrator has admitted that he is morally at fault. Ironically, he came under the law’s attention after providing interviews about his wartime service in an effort to persuade Holocaust deniers of the Nazi crimes.
Around 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Most of them came from Eastern Europe, namely Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet Union. The mass-murders took place primarily in three concentration-extermination camps: Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Belzec, all three in Poland, where more than 2.3 million Jews were killed.
Jews arrive at Auschwitz’s train station. For most this would be the last time with their families before being sent to the gas chambers (Wikipedia.org).
Groening’s trial is probably one of the last cases against former Nazi soldiers or administrators.
He will serve his time at a jail specifically designed for elderly convicts in Lower Saxony, located in north Germany.
It would appear that justice is never too late.
Featured image of prosecutor Marcus Preusse courtesy of AP
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